I just had a feeling that something was going to go wrong at work today... and I also had a feeling it was going to concern Michelle.
I was right.
Earlier this morning, Michelle was in the production room (which doubles as Chris' office), putting together some envelopes. I heard Chris ask her about her weekend, and Michelle's response was quiet. I thought "Hmm... something's wrong with Michelle," because normally, Michelle will chat it up with Chris on Tuesdays.
I went back to work, and thought I heard something. I looked up, and saw that Michelle was talking to Chris, but I couldn't hear anything she was saying because she was talking so quietly (which is unusual; Michelle has kind of a loud voice). I turned down my radio... no luck. Still couldn't hear.
Then I noticed that it looked as if Michelle was crying. I thought maybe she just had an exceptionally bad weekend... that is until Chris came into my office and said it was time for the three of us to talk.
The basic problem is this: "I feel as if PJ doesn't like me."
Boo hoo. Waaah waaaah. So what?
That's what I wanted to say.
"You don't talk to me. And even though you say you're shy, I saw you at the Christmas party, and you're not shy. You just don't like me. You don't talk to me."
What I wanted to say: "Stop with the fucking drama. This is a place of business, not a chatathon."
What I said: "I just don't talk much. I'm quiet."
Then I was hit with the accusation again: "I feel as if you simply don't like me. I don't know what I've done to you, but you just don't like me." Sniff, sniff, sob, sob.
So, then I had to tell her of course I like her. I feel that Acme would be in a hell of a lot of hot water if it weren't for her. She's a hard worker and a good person to have on our team. I simply don't indulge in a lot of small talk. It's not my forte.
"I've heard you talk. You just don't like me."
Chris finally intervened and basically acknowledged that while Michelle's feelings are valid, it would be more constructive if she could give me things to work on. Like "PJ, when I come to work in the morning, I'd like to chat with you for a few minutes," or "PJ, when I come to you for help, I would like you to go into more detail," etc. Then she asked Michelle to pose something to me that I could actually work on fixing.
She pulled out a document I had left in her inbox yesterday, with a note on it that said "Michelle, please file in appropriate place." She held it up and said "I feel like you often set me up for failure. I have no idea where this document gets filed. It's like you just set me up to fail tasks."
Um. Not knowing where to file something is not a failure. I had to explain that I thought she had typed up the original document, and therefore knew where to file it. I managed to leave out the bit in which I felt like saying "not knowing where to file something is not a failure. Just fucking ask someone!"
I mean, really. How is leaving a contract on her desk to file setting her up for failure? Obviously I DIDN'T KNOW WHERE TO FILE IT. Does she think I look at myself as a failure for that? No frickin' way, Jose.
Holy hell. I don't even know where to go from here.
I feel resentful, because this whole thing just seems so eighth grade. And it's not that I don't talk to her; heck, when Dennis and Chris is gone, Michelle and I often have talks about metaphysical subjects. But when the office is full, there is absolutely no time to talk, except for maybe a "how was your weekend," or "reading anything good?"
And I am extremely shy, although I'm fairly comfortable here now, after almost three full years in this office. I just don't feel free to sit around and make idle chit chat. In fact, Chris has often pointed out to me that while "we like to have fun here at Acme Consulting Company," we really need to sit at our desks and pound out the work. And so, that's what I do.
And then there's the whole setting her up for failure thing. I rarely ever give her anything to do. She basically works for Dennis, and then Chris is next in charge. Once in awhile, Chris will say "Have Michelle help you out with blah, blah," and I do. But in that case, I sit down, explain to her what it is we're doing, and we figure out which portions of the project to tackle...together. So, where is she coming up with this crap? I have no idea.
The rational side of me says that of course she overreacted because, for some reason, she was already feeling delicate. Tuesdays are her Mondays; I get that. It's not always fun to walk in to the job after a long weekend and discover there are problems with whatever happened on Friday. Still... to make it personal or to take it personally is just... aggravating to me.
I've had my moments here at Acme, believe me. Yet, I don't know if I've ever believed them to be personal. For example, Chris isn't always the best communicator. Does that mean I think she doesn't like me? No. It just means I think she's a poor communicator, and yes, maybe the lack of those skills has sometimes left me feeling frustrated or angry or, yes, even close to tears. But never did I think "Oh boo hoo, she doesn't like me."
Then again, maybe that's just something that has come from maturity. I think back to my Army days, and can remember feeling as if two of my bosses (at different times) didn't like me. However, I can't really remember how I dealt with it. I guess I just carried on; after all, it was the Army, and there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it at the time. I just sucked it up.
So Michelle, suck it up and grow up. I like you already. But if you keep putting me in the hot seat, that like is going to fade and fade quickly.